Streaming music services are cribbing another page from the broadcast radio playbook. Amazon, Apple Music and Spotify are now hosting intimate performances by artists in small venues, album preview parties and other exclusive music events intended to differentiate themselves from their competitors and promote deeper engagement with subscribers.
To promote its annual Amazon Prime Day, Amazon staged a concert with Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa, SZA and Becky G at an undisclosed New York City venue Wednesday night. The invite-only event was streamed live to Amazon Prime members. Amazon earlier streamed live performances from Maren Morris and the Jonas Brothers, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal. It also invited 100 fans to meet Thomas Rhett and listen to his new album and witness an interview with the artist that streamed live on the service.
Spotify has also gotten in on the album premiere action, inviting hardcore fans to listening parties based on their streaming behavior. And Apple Music has staged and streamed exclusive performances from Tyler the Creator and Shawn Mendes. It also launched an “Up Next” series of shows to promote emerging artists.
To any broadcaster who has worked in contemporary music radio during the past 40 years, these are tried and true broadcast radio benchmarks. Decades ago, stations like KBCO Denver and WXRT Chicago practically wrote the book on intimate in-studio artist performances, often broadcasting them live and including them on CD compilations. For years stations have invited listeners to attend intimate shows with big-name acts in small venues. iHeartMedia has used its New York and Los Angeles theaters for album release parties and live Q&As with artists. Station-presented live concert series designed to promote up and coming acts are another FM radio staple.
Yet in its coverage, the Wall Street Journal neglected to point out that these are things that radio stations have done – and done well – for years. Instead it gives the false perception that radio’s live music events are confined to ticketed, multi-act festivals in large arenas.
A 24 year-old who attended an invitation-only Spotify event with Carly Rae Jepsen could have just as easily been describing one of hundreds of intimate performances staged by radio broadcasters in the past year. “I felt super-special when we got to the location. I was expecting a ton of people, but it was the perfect size,” Cade Jarvis told the Journal. “It felt super personal.”